Friday, August 21, 2009

Rocky Mountain National Park, 8.21.2009

At Denver airport. Flight to BWI delayed due to weather/tornado warning in Maryland. Hope everybody is okay. Blog time ... Home 2:00 AM (8/22).

Great day tramping (driving, hiking) around Rocky Mountain National Park. Posted some pictures here (start of series). About an hour drive north of Boulder. Very twisty last half into Estes Park, at 7,522' ... park roads climbed to over 12,000' ... highest in the country. Quite a few cyclists suffering the climbs, descending faster than cars. I thought I saw Levi Leipheimer in red Gila jersey ... probably not.

Saw some nicer parts of Estes Park than I remembered from my Fort Collins/HP consulting days' visits (c. 1992). Very nice little town. But the gem is the park. Enormous mountains, made accessible by ridge top drive (Trail Ridge Road). When I see that awesome beauty, I'm astounded, uplifted. Maybe I can do some backpacking there next summer. Viva!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Boulder/RMNP, 8.19-21.2009

It didn't hit me until we were making the bed in his dorm room (dorm pic above), spreading the mattress pad, tucking in the comforter. Inwardly, I started to cry. I love doing the small things, taking care of him ... not to coddle but to enable, soigneur. Later, we shook hands, hugged quickly, a bit awkwardly (his roommate was there), and said goodbye. He was off. Later, I saw him in Kelly kit, heading out to ride up one of the canyon roads that lace the mountains behind Boulder. This is a wonderful place for Nate, the best I think. A great university, awesome riding, many pro riders.

About 3 PM I drove to the Chautauqua Park (pics above), hiked a beautiful five mile loop, to the base of the Flatirons. Then I drove up to the top of Flagstaff for a few more walkabouts and pics. Yesterday, to open up his legs, Nathan rode up Flagstaff. It's a pretty awesome climb (pic below). That guy's got legs. Seeing the beauty and the tens of riders on Flagstaff strengthened my conviction that this place fits.

Tomorrow, I'll drive up to Rocky Mountain National Park, about 45 minutes north, for more walkabouts and pics. Then, semi-redeye home, into BWI at midnight. Venga!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Shifting Gears, 8.16.2009

Big, interesting weekend. Long 80-mile ride with lots of climbing (5,660') in the Shenandoah valley Friday (my AWS day), fast hot criterium in Millersbug Saturday (I took pictures, Nate took 4th), and follow-up ride Sunday. We're shifting gears a bit. I take Nathan to University of Colorado/Boulder to start his freshman year later this week, Avery continues high school after Labor Day, and the bike race season is tapering. That said, it's been great ... a silver medal at Junior Natz for Nate, two bronzes for NCVC's Steve Black, and a number of additional top ten finishes among our squad ... good progression by riders among the categories with sharp, region-leading results by many. I really enjoy helping kids advance in bike racing. And I like a good ride.

Shifting gears? My sense is that I'm going to dive-in more to get in shape, to burn the pounds a bit and build strength. I turn 50 in a couple months and, while I doubt I'll get another 50, I'd like to get as many as possible, as competent and pain free as possible. So to stay engaged and fit.

On the engagement front, I need to rev-up the Africa project. I'm going over this fall. I helped found a clinic program that each month serves 100+ women and children in Addis-Ababa that would not otherwise receive pre-natal or infant care. It's a good thing. We will increase the program's scope and reach, serving more patients and deepening technical and medical resources. That requires money and partnership-building with folks like World Bank and GWU medical school. That's my (volunteer) job. We'll get there. More later.

Enjoy pictures from Millersburg posted here. (Pretty good work in bright sun; normal manual focus techniques described in preceding posts.) On Friday I rode this route, a loop from Front Royal over Edinburg Gap, the heart of the Shenandoah valley. While I burned 5,000+ kCal, I took my time at it. Nice lunch at Cucina Italiana in Edinburg, bigger dinner finale at Soul Mountain in Front Royal. On Sunday I'm riding the Marshall route over Mount Weather. While both rides are good, I miss the longer, simpler rides out west, where you can do 90 miles and 6,000' and only have to take three or four turns. Because I'm new to this weekend's routes, I had to stop briefly every 5-10 miles (or less) to check my cue sheet for the next left or right ... 40-turns kind of messes up the long distance flow.

Anyway, it feels good. Onward and upward.

PS -- Got to Marshall and forgot my shoes ... so retreated to Arlington and rode local.

Monday, August 3, 2009

In Bend, Wrap-Up -- August 3, 2009

We left Bend yesterday, drove 3 hours to an airport hotel, woke early, did the shell game of major luggage drop-off (6 bikes, bags, etc. … two $20s to the porter), rental car return and taxi back. On plane – Southwest Air 3 stops PDX to BWI.

Looking back, in my view, we had an exceptional two weeks: three podium medals, a bunch of top tens, including results for Nate and both Stevens. Nate did his first NRC race, besting many elite U23 and professional riders, etching his great strength in mountain stages. Most importantly, we had a lot of fun, on and off the bike, small parties and klatches with friends, outdoor and coffee table experiences.

I loved Bend, central Oregon. It’s a beautiful area, capturing the wonder of the high desert and the alpine glory of real (10,000’+) mountains. Photographically, it was a smash hit. Working with the 24-70L I produced some of my favorite pictures yet. I want to develop a new genre in my collection, “ecology,” for landscapes and nature like this shot of the young Deschutes or this Crater landscape.

What worked? I think the accommodations, Lavabelles were a great hit. A big house would also have worked, at a lower price, but it wouldn’t have had the separation and connectedness we got in our row of three adjacent bungalows. The big ass Chevy Silverado truck was great: I’d never driven such a beast, but it was so easy to transport so many bikes, luggage, up to five guys, ice coolers and stuff. It was a nice beachhead in the feed zones. Having two coaches, with mechanic, soigneur, masseuse and other magic abilities provided the highest level of care for the racers. The gentle freedom we all had, aided by our location, where anyone could walk around the corner to the Taco Stand (with the Boswell Challenge!), or a few blocks into town to a great coffee shop or suds or wine bar or cafĂ© or art gallery … or we could take off on a bike and get a perfect ten-mile uphill effort for training, or an epic 100-mile century through breathtaking landscapes, or something in between.

Technologically, I/we travel like bomb makers, with more than a dozen electronic devices, from chargers to multiple laptops, Garmins and a half-dozen USB devices and a bunch of different storage blocks – and several cameras and lenses, air guns and the like. Of course, amping the bomb-maker theme, we had a quarter chest of tools, bottles of lubricant, and greasy rags for maintaining bikes.

What didn’t work? Mostly, everything went well except for the one tragedy that a bike was stolen from the Kendall’s rental house. Things like that are always stingers, for me, making things gloomy. The feeder driving directions at Cascades were laughably and consistently bad – don’t those people actually use maps or drive the directions they provide? Oh well, I guess we may finally invest in a portable GPS unit for the car. Got to see a lot more countryside and only missed one feed for Nate. (Next year, we’ll know better.) The riders were naturally cracked at the end of the day, in the afternoon, so they weren’t up for much venturing, like a river float or walk about at Smith Rock, but that didn’t stop their soigneurs from getting out and about a bit.

No, all in all this was a great trip. Can’t wait for more.